N-Methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor-mediated excitotoxicity is thought to underlie a variety of neurological disorders, and inhibition of either the NMDA receptor itself, or molecules of the intracellular cascade, may attenuate neurodegeneration in these diseases. Calpain, a calcium-dependent cysteine protease, has been identified as part of such an NMDA receptor-induced excitotoxic signaling pathway. The present study addressed the question of whether inhibition of calpain can prevent neuronal cell death and associated behavioral deficits in a disease-relevant animal model, which is based on excitotoxic lesions of the cholinergic nucleus basalis magnocellularis of Meynert. Excitotoxic lesions of the nucleus basalis with NMDA induced a markedly impaired performance in the novel object recognition test. Treatment with the calpain inhibitor, N-(1-benzyl-2-carbamoyl-2-oxoethyl)-2-[E-2-(4- diethlyaminomethylphenyl) ethen-1-yl]benzamide (A-705253), dose-dependently prevented the behavioral deficit. Subsequent analysis of choline acetyltransferase in the cortical mantle of the lesioned animals revealed that application of A-705253 dose-dependently and significantly attenuated cholinergic neurodegeneration. Calpain inhibition also significantly diminished the accompanying gliosis, as determined by immunohistochemical analysis of microglia activation. Finally, inhibition of calpain by A-705253 and the peptidic calpain inhibitor N-acetyl-Leu-Leu-Nle-CHO did not impair long-term potentiation in hippocampal slices, indicating that calpain inhibition interrupts NMDA excitotoxicity pathways without interfering with NMDA receptor-mediated signaling involved in cognition. We conclude that inhibition of calpains may represent a valuable strategy for the prevention of excitotoxicity-induced neuronal decline without interfering with the physiological neuronal functions associated with learning and memory processes. Thus, calpain inhibition may be a promising and novel approach for the treatment of various neurodegenerative disorders.
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics|
|Publication status||Published - Nov 1 2008|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine